As the Senior Partner’s maternity leave draws near, we’ve been planning how Schaeffer & Lamere will operate in her absence. People often ask us what it’s like to work with a spouse; we answer that it seems to work for us. In truth, we don’t see each other that much at the office. We keep different schedules, drive to work separately, and work on different cases. If we didn’t talk about the firm for a month, it wouldn’t really matter.
This week, though, we sat down to chart out our division of responsibilities. Our areas of practice overlap, but are separate. Andrea does personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, and “general” law, which means everything else. I do personal injury, mass torts, and class actions (these last two areas being my primary area of expertise since 1996, most of the time with other partners; I joined Andrea’s firm only a year and a half ago, well after we were married).
Andrea is the firm’s managing partner, which means she handles the staff, acts as a liaison to our accountant, arranges for insurance (malpractice, work comp, general liability and property), and does the general contracting and office design for our building. I do the marketing, keep the computers and the network up and running, manage our website, and post to our two weblogs (this one making three).
Because Andrea is well-established in Madison County, has had hundreds of clients, and handles the general cases, she gets most of the phone calls, easily four times what I get. She’ll be much missed during her maternity leave, but tells me (her idea) that she’ll miss only two weeks before the birth and two weeks after. After that, she plans to do some work from home and go into the office at least once a week, gradually working her way back to full-time employment. During the summer, my three other children will be anxious to help with their new brother (even though the oldest will be learning to drive). It’s just too bad the kids aren’t qualified to give legal advice.
The challenge will be handling the calls and keeping up with our cases, while also providing assistance with the new baby. As tough-minded, hard-working Midwesterners, I'm sure we'll struggle through. A year from now, we'll probably be laughing about it. Either that, or . . . well, never mind.